It’s back, baby! After a sparse summer and more than a few canceled performances, live theater has returned with a vengeance. From a seven-hour marathon at Geffen Playhouse to a wide range of plays and musicals around town and farther afield, there’s so much going on that some weeks feature almost a dozen openings.
Don’t get overwhelmed. These theater artists have used the past two and a half years to make art for you. They’ve had to overcome the odds of illness, lockdowns and soaring prices for theater rentals and other expenses. Find a show that speaks to you–from the 35 choices here, there has to be at least one! Buy tickets and be a part of theater’s comeback. Better yet, buy a subscription!
Here’s a chronological list of options. Check out their websites for dates, times and tickets, as well as COVID protocols (in general, theaters are still requiring proof of vaccination and masks).
Friends with Guns, a dark comedy by Stephanie Alison Walker about two liberal couples whose nascent friendship is shaken when they find themselves on opposite sides of the gun divide. With the dynamics of their relationship upended, the husbands retreat to polarized corners, leaving the wives to bravely confront complex questions and explore newfound common ground.
Starring a cast of students from Theatre of Arts, a Hollywood conservatory, the show is performed at The Dorie Theatre, 6476 Santa Monica Blvd. For more information, visit www.toa.edu/live. Tickets are available here. Through Sept. 18.
In Women in Jeopardy by Wendy MacLeod, three divorced women navigate friendship, aging, romance, and murder. In Salt Lake City, Liz introduces her new boyfriend to long-time pals Mary and Jo, throwing off their comfortable patterns of Chardonnay Tuesday, Fun Runs and Book Clubs. Soon a local crime has the girls gabbing, and accusations begin to fly. Mary and Jo indulge in their suspicions and play the role of detectives as they try to uncover the truth and protect those they love. Meanwhile, Liz’s 19-year-old daughter and her snowboarding boyfriend ride the slopes of their own drama. It’s a comedy about friendship, parenting, aging, and love.
Jagged Little Pill, the Alanis Morissette musical, is playing as part of the Pantages’ Broadway in Hollywood series. For tickets, click here. Through Oct. 2.
Bearings, a world premiere engagement written and directed by Matt Chait, with action based at the Langham Huntington Hotel in Pasadena. The story: Richard Kalvar did something he never thought he would do and now nothing makes sense. Rich has lost his bearings. Can Detective Mike Salcedo help him piece together the fragments of his shattered life and make sense of them again?
At the Flight Theatre, 6472 Santa Monica Blvd. For tickets, click here. Through Oct. 8.
The Secret World of Archy and Mehitabel presents a strange collaboration between an alley cat and a cockroach with the soul of a poet, as told by an overworked, overwrought newspaper man in New York City. Adapted for the stage by Dan Gilvezan from 100+-year-old columns by New York Evening Sun journalist Don Marquis.
At the Whitefire Theatre, 13500 Ventura Blvd. in Sherman Oaks. For tickets and more information, go to www.whitefiretheatre.com. Through Oct. 15.
Ibsen’s Ghosts at the Odyssey. (See our review and details here.) Through Oct. 23.
The west coast premiere of The Inheritance by Matthew Lopez is a Nicholas Nickleby-level event. Yes, it’s seven hours long, in two parts, each with a number of breaks. And according to reviewers and awarders, it’s time well spent. A re-envisioning E.M. Forster’s Howards End to 21st-century New York City, the play asks tough questions about love and what is owed to those who came before and will follow behind.
At Geffen Playhouse, with opportunities for audience engagement. For tickets and more information, click here. Through Nov. 27.
Opening in September
The Iraq war-themed Melancholia will travel to three colleges in the Los Angeles Community College District, followed by a residency at the Latino Theater Company’s home. After a week at each college, Melancholia will play for two weeks at the LA Theater Center in downtown LA.
Developed and written collectively by members of the Latino Theater Lab (a program of the Latino Theater Company), Melancholia is a highly stylized performance work about a young Latino Marine who struggles to reconnect with a world that no longer makes sense.
Performances take place Sept. 15-17 at Los Angeles Valley College (5800 Fulton Ave., Valley Glen, CA 91401); on Sept. 22-24 at Los Angeles Mission College (13356 Eldridge Ave., Sylmar, CA 91342); and Sept. 29-Oct. 1 at East Los Angeles College (1301 Avenida Cesar Chavez, Monterey Park, CA 91754). Eight additional performances will take place October 6-16 at The Los Angeles Theater Center, 514 S. Spring St. For more information, go to www.latinotheaterco.org. Opens September 15.
Oklahoma runs through Oct. 16 at the Ahmanson downtown. The move from a Tony-winning run on Broadway was delayed but the show is worth the wait (I saw it there in 2019). The reimagined production, which originated at Bard College, doesn’t change a word of dialogue. Yet it upends the traditional depiction of one character, forcing new insights and perspectives. This is the first time a first-class Equity production of Oklahoma! has toured North America in more than 40 years. For tickets, click here. Opens September 15.
The new season at Antaeus Theatre Company begins with a riff on a 15th-century morality play, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ Everybody. The tragi-comedy charts the quest of “Everybody” as they search for “Somebody” to accompany them on the journey of life just as it seems the end of the road is near. Representing the randomness of life and death, some of the cast are assigned roles by lottery during the show, creating a unique viewing experience each night. Jennifer Chang directs the Los Angeles premiere.
The run goes through October 17 at Antaeus, 110 E. Broadway in Glendale. For tickets, click here. Opens September 16.
Andrew Lippa’s The Wild Party takes place in the 1920s. Jazz, emotional anthems and contemporary music provide the soundtrack to a world of careless, conflicted characters. Love and longing, lawlessness and lust, risk and revenge drive mysterious strangers, vaudevillian lovers, and friends who live on the edges of a seemingly glamorous and freewheeling age together for one debauched night.
At Morgan-Wixson Theatre, 2627 Pico Blvd. Santa Monica, through October 9. For details and tickets, see www.morgan-wixson.org. Opens September 16.
I Never Sang for My Father is an American classic, the story of Gene, a widower, with an elderly mother he loves and an 80-year-old father, he has never loved, hard as he tried. The father has been mayor of a small town in Westchester County, self-made and highly respected. Beneath these trappings, however, he is a mean, unloving and ungenerous man. When the mother suddenly dies, Gene is faced with the responsibility of having the father on his hands just at a time when he wants to remarry and move to California.
The play runs through October 23 at Two Roads Theatre, 4348 Tujunga Ave. in Studio City. For tickets and information, click here. Opens September 16.
The Revue runs two nights only, Sept. 17 and 18. Forbidden Broadway for the movies, the show features new songs based on favorite movies turned into musicals, including: Top Gun, Caddyshack, The Empire Strikes Back, Aliens, Men in Black, The Princess Bride, There’s Something About Mary, Pulp Fiction, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and many more. A live band performs in the style of Rock of Ages. Conceived and produced by Composer Jim Dooley
At The Bourbon Room, 6356 Hollywood Blvd. Purchase tickets here. Enjoy food and beverage service throughout the show, with a two-item minimum purchase per person. Opens September 17.
Jessica Goldberg’s darkly comic play Babe takes on the music business at Echo Theater. (See our interview about this world premiere at Playwright Jessica Goldberg on Babe.) Abby has been discovering new music talent since the ’90s, when she became the right hand to an A&R legend, Gus. It was the best kind of work marriage—until Gen Z Kaitlin shows up, hell bent on showing these old rockers there’s a new generation hell-bent on changing the world.
Through October 24 at the Echo’s home at Atwater Village Theatre, For tickets, click here. Opens September 17.
I’m Not a Comedian…I’m Lenny Bruce is a one-man show written by and starring Ronnie Marmo and directed by Tony Award-winner Joe Mantegna. It returns to Los Angeles for the grand opening of the Theatre 68 Arts Complex at 5112 Lankershim Blvd. in North Hollywood.
The show will have only 10 performances through Oct. 1, including its 400th on Sept. 24. Click here for tickets. For discounts, use promo code 005 ($10 off) or 225 $25 off). Opens September 17.
Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein, starring Sally Struthers as Frau Blücher (cue the horses!) will run through Sunday, October 9 at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, 14900 La Mirada Blvd in La Mirada. (Not around the corner but…Mel Brooks!) There will be an Open-Captioned performance on Oct. 1 and talkbacks with the cast and creative team on Sept. 22 and Oct. 6.
For details, see https://lamiradatheatre.com/. Opens September 17.
Cecily Strong steps into Lily Tomlin’s shoes in The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, by Jane Wagner. The one-woman show weaves together the seemingly disparate tales of a punk-rock rebel, wealthy Californian socialites and feminist reactionaries in search of aliens.
In A Clean Brush, at Theatre Forty, Dick and Mello have been hired to paint a room in the basement of a widow whose husband died there. Now
she’s looking to turn it into a rental cash cow. The house painters think this is just another job…until Zoe’s nosy neighbor stops by and plants doubt in their minds as to what really happened to Widow Craig’s clumsy spouse. Are they covering up a murder?
Theatre Forty is at 241 S. Moreno Drive, on the campus of Beverly Hills High School. Tickets are available here. Opens September 22.
New York City drag legend Lady Bunny brings her new show, The Greatest Ho On Earth!, to Catalina Jazz Club in Hollywood for two performances only. Lady Bunny, the creator and emcee of Wigstock, offers comedy, storytelling, and song, as well glitzy outfits and, of course, sky-high wigs.
Tickets are available at www.CatalinaJazzClub.com. Doors open at 7:00pm for cocktail and dinner service (minimums apply). Showtime is 8:30pm. Catalina Jazz Club is located at 6725 Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. Opens September 23.
Rogue Machine presents the southern California premiere of A Great Wilderness by Samuel D. Hunter. The play navigates complex terrain into gay conversion therapy. Walt has devoted his life to “curing” gay teenage boys but his previously unwavering moral compass no longer points one way. How does one find their true north?
Runs through October 31 (no performance October 10) at the Matrix Theatre, 7657 Melrose Ave. For tickets, click here. Opens September 24.
Before Kim’s Convenience was a hit on Canadian TV and Netflix, it was a stage play. The Laguna Playhouse opens its 2022-23 season with that play, written by Ins Choi and directed by Jon Lawrence Rivera. (Sure, it’s even farther away than La Mirada, but…the combination of Kim’s Convenience, the historic Laguna Playhouse and beautiful Laguna Beach is irresistible!)
Mr. Kim is a first-generation Korean immigrant and the proud owner of Kim’s Convenience store for 30 years. Now he’s trying to grapple with both a changing neighborhood landscape and the chasm between him and his second-generation offspring.
At the Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Drive, Laguna Beach. Tickets are available here. Opens September 25.
Desert Stories for Lost Girls by Lily Rushing (Genízaro) is a rumination on identity, family, and colonialism over generations. When 18-year-old Carrie moves in with her grandmother, Rosa, she is thrown into a world of memory and mystery that unearths her family’s identity, shining a light on a dark and bloody period in the history of the American Southwest.
Presented by Latino Theater Company and Native Voices at the Autry, the only Equity theatre company in the country dedicated to developing and producing new plays by Native artists . Through October 16. For tickets, click here. Opens September 30.
Opening in October
The west coast premiere of Driver’s Seat, by Ellie Brelis, tells the story of a young girl navigating OCD, a once-in-a-lifetime heartbreak, mental health hospitalization, and coming out as queer. After all that, learning how to drive should be a cinch, right?
Through Oct. 23 in the Emerson Theatre at Theatre 68 Arts Complex, 5112 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood. Tickets are available here. Opens October 1.
Open Fist Theatre Company presents the world premiere of a dark comedy about family, baseball, genetics—and the unexpected vagaries of life. To the Bone, written and directed by Catherine Butterfield, takes place in the “Irish Riviera” south of Boston 2013 where two sisters are readying the house for a meeting with the daughter one gave up for adoption back at age 17.
To the Bone runs through November 5 at the Atwater Village Theatre, 3269 Casitas Ave. Click here for tickets. Opens October 1.
Babies aren’t the only thing that take nine months to birth. MADlab is a creative nine-month program that focuses on the development of new plays from the idea up. On Oct. 1 and 2, come for readings of new works three different Los Angeles playwrights who have crafted three very different plays. All unique, all L.A.
Click here for more information and tickets. Opens October 1.
In Basement Folly, by David Datz, a couple ponders what to do when they discover that an unknown person is living in their basement. Their many possible actions become fodder for the family’s greatest talent: bickering.
At Theatre Forty, 241 S. Moreno Drive in Beverly Hills. Tickets are here. Opens October 3.
The Echo Theater Company presents Mother Sisters, a docu-play curated and constructed by Makaela Vogel based on interviews she conducted with her eight aunts. Looking back over their varied and fascinating lives, these women affirm the strength and transformative power of their bond as sisters and female travelers of the late 20th century.
Through Oct. 27 at Atwater Village Theatre, 3269 Casitas Ave. Free parking in the Atwater Crossing (AXT) lot one block south of the theater. Opens October 5.
Latino Theater Company presents the West Coast premiere of (Un)Documents, written and performed by queer actor, theatermaker and poet Jesús I. Valles. The show was adapted from a series of poems Valles wrote following their brother’s deportation in a workplace raid — poems about their brother, citizenship, identity and the LGBTQ community.
Runs through November 20 at The Los Angeles Theatre Center, 514 S. Spring St. Opens October 14.
In The Addams Family, Wednesday Addams has grown up and fallen in love with a sweet, smart, even normal young man from a respectable family. And if that wasn’t upsetting enough, Wednesday confides in her father and begs him not to tell her mother. Now, Gomez Addams must do something he’s never done before: keep a secret from his beloved wife, Morticia (Teri Hatcher).
Runs through Oct. 23 at the Kavli Theatre at the Bank of America Performing Arts Center (formerly the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza), 2100 Thousand Oaks Boulevard in Thousand Oaks. Tickets are available here. Opens October 14.
The Road Theatre Company opens its 2022-23 season with the world premiere of According to the Chorus by Arlene Hutton. In the basement quick change room of a Broadway theatre in the mid-1980s life is full of angst as the long-running production may close at any time and the chorus women are at war with the wardrobe department. A funny, nostalgic behind-the-scenes look at a pivotal period in the history of Broadway where women’s issues and the AIDS crisis play out through the everyday lives of Equity performers and union dressers.
Through Dec. 11 at the Road Theatre, located in The NoHo Senior Arts Colony, 10747 Magnolia Blvd. in North Hollywood. For tickets, visit www.RoadTheatre.org. Opens October 21.
The Robey Theatre Company presents the world premiere engagement of Man’s Favor Devil’s Plan, commissioned from playwright Kwik Jones. In 1938 Los Angeles, Mr. Avery’s Hotel is a microcosm of a nation that has been steeped in a vicious hypocritical quagmire. The owner is a victim of his own diabolical abuse and in denial of the consequences even though he is surrounded by them. Laddie, DD, and the rest in his employ navigate in a way that creates two worlds, one that allows them existence and the other that forces murderous results.
From The Robey through Nov. 20 (dark on Nov. 5) at the Los Angeles Theatre Center, Theatre 4, 514 S. Spring St., Los Angeles. For tickets, click here (coming soon). Opens October 22.
A Noise Within revisits August Wilson’s Radio Golf, the final installment in his 10-play American Century Cycle. A Black mayoral candidate determined to gentrify the neighborhood where he grew up must choose between his personal aspirations and his integrity.
Performances take place at A Noise Within, 352 E. Foothill Blvd. in Pasadena from October 22 through November 13. Tickets are available here. Opens October 22.
Greenway Court Theatre opens its 25th anniversary season with WET: A DACAmented Journey, written and performed by Alex Alpharaoh and directed by Daphnie Sicre. WET chronicles the story of Anner Cividanis’ journey as an undocumented American and captures the desperation that DREAMers experience with limited options of adjustment of status under a broken U.S. Immigration System.
Tickets are available at GreenwayCourtTheatre.org. Opens October 22.
For tickets, click here. Opens October 28.
Little Red Riding Hood is Storybook Theatre’s musical retelling of the famous fairy tale. Book, music and lyrics by Lloyd J. Schwartz gives kids Granny at the Pianny, a funny wolf, and an adorable Little Riding Hood. There are opportunities for audience participation as Little Red Riding Hood goes through the woods to Granny’s house. Fun for the whole family.